Help and Hope: The Drive to Make a Difference

Let’s call a spade a spade – striking the right balance between family responsibilities and answering the call to mission work is a daunting task. Yes, international missions are challenging for everyone who answers the call. In the midst of discipling and ministering to others, you’re often faced with language barriers, limited resources, and the need to understand and acclimate to a foreign culture, among a myriad of other difficulties. But if there’s one group who faces a particularly unique brand of challenges in mission work, it’s families.

If your family has ever embarked on a long term mission, then you know better than anyone how much of a juggling act it can be. Every family member’s needs and commitments have to be carefully considered, from children to spouses, while also addressing the needs of your ministry. Service must be balanced with providing stability and security for the family as a whole.

That’s a hard juggling act to master given that overseas mission work often causes major disruptions for families in their established routines and relationships. For instance, moving to a new location, adapting to a different culture, and navigating unfamiliar surroundings can be overwhelming, especially for children. Equally overwhelming for parents is deciding how best to fill their children’s educational and basic medical needs in a foreign country. It’s not dissimilar to the challenges that military families face when they have to move to a new base every few years.

 

 

There is, however, a major bright side to all of these hardships. Families can experience the most profound growth and transformation by facing these challenges together with open communication, prayerful discernment, and a willingness to make sacrifices.

In fact, while listing all the challenges that families can face on missions would be a herculean feat, the rewards are actually impossible to measure. The experience of serving together strengthens family bonds and deepens relationships. Children gain invaluable first hand perspective on the wider world outside their home country. They develop a unique capacity for empathy, cross-cultural understanding, and personal resilience. The family as whole can learn deeper ways of supporting one another and what it truly means to navigate the good, the bad, and the ugly of intentional community in a Christ-centered way.

 

 

Moreover, mission work provides families with the opportunity to live out their faith and witness the power of the Gospel in ways they may never have experienced had they remained at home. In serving others as the hands and feet of Christ, they bear witness to the transformative power of God’s grace and presence, both within their family unit and in the communities they serve. Their obedience to Holy Spirit and the great commission not only brings life to the community where they minister, but brings new life within their family as well. As it says in Proverbs, those who refresh are in turn refreshed.

In the end, the decision to answer the call to mission work as a family requires no small amount of courage. But remember, God can do miracles with what you think is just the little that you have – whether that’s just a little faith or just a few resources. If you and your family feel that God is calling you into the mission field, and you answer that call, God will use the little that you have to transform your challenges into blessings. He will teach you and your family how to navigate life with greater faith, and will make you a blessing to those around you in ways that you may not even see in the moment.

I’ll end with this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

For families who step out and into the mission field, there’s no knowing exactly where the journey will sweep you off to in terms of challenges and growth, setbacks and victories. But one thing we can be certain of – wherever God ultimately takes your family on that journey, it will be full of blessing.